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The Year Of IP-based Storage?

IP-based storage may not have lived up to its hype, but this could be the year it finally arrives. Acceptable performance, big vendor support, and customer demands are poised to bring IP-based storage to the mainstream.

Microsoft's bundling iSCSI protocol support inside Windows; EMC, Hitachi Data Systems, and IBM are promising iSCSI integration with its systems; and host-bus adapters for server support from vendors such as Adaptec and Intel could mean the late arrival of IP storage this year, Dianne McAdam of the Data Mobility Group says. "With the big gorillas supporting IP storage, it's a new market," she says.

Customers are driving IP storage implementation more than anything else. Two customers balked at or got fed up with the cost and complexity of Fibre Channel storage area networks (SANs), and one even brought two vendors together for his backup and recovery needs--and those two vendors will sell a bundled system as a result.

At Wells Fargo Corp., a department's 12-hour daily backup of 19 servers was becoming prohibitive in the face of 24-hour banking. Erik Ott, business systems consultant and assistant VP at Wells Fargo, knew the old direct-attached storage (DAS) framework contributed to such cumbersome backup, but as a bank, Wells Fargo was "not on the crust of technology."

He got approval for a low-cost approach that didn't require the same upper-management signatures as a high-cost Fibre Channel SAN would have. First, Ott found CommVault Systems Inc.'s Galaxy backup and recovery software at a conference. Then he chose an iSCSI IP storage appliance from StoneFly Networks Inc., because that vendor had been around the longest among the competitors and passed some tests set up by Ott. The combination got Wells Fargo's backup process down to four hours--and, Ott says, "it runs like a dream."

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